...And the kids are alright
We live in an era of hyper-vigilance where our children are concerned. I am not an exception.
Recently I found myself densely in the middle of life changing transition. You can read all about that here. Due to these changes, the repetitive push for me to do what is right for "family first" by well meaning morons has been all but maddening.
I'm going to say the very 'duh' thing that needs to be said.
Relationships break up.
Having children with someone is never a reason to stay in a toxic relationship.
I write all this in full admission that I once believed that it was. And so I did. And I still don't know, and may not for some time, the full repercussions that that decision had on my sons.
I've been told countless times since I walked away that I was being selfish. That I wasn't thinking of my children. That I was making a decision based on emotion.
Here is what I say to that...
My children cannot prosper if I am depressed. If I am lost in thoughts of escapism. If I am barely keeping it together to go through the motions day after day.
They certainly cannot grow into functioning, well-rounded, contributing members of society if they watch their parents in perpetual combat - both verbal and physical at times - and are surrounded by dysfunction.
By putting myself before my marriage, I am putting my boys first. I am ensuring that their mother, currently really their sole parent, is whole inside and full enough to dole out the seemingly endless love, attention, and discipline they need on a daily basis.
And though I do have my days of doubt; the kind where you wonder if their small minds can comprehend this big mess, I was reassured recently by my very smart cookie, Mino.
We were out to dinner, just the two of us. I was rewarding him for having his homework done by the time I got home by supporting the elementary school's 'Dinner Night Out' event.
There we were, mother and son, just chatting about his day. He was complaining about his uncle, my brother, who lives with us now that I'm back home and on the hunt for a new house. I tried to explain to him that this was temporary, and that soon we'd be back on our own. I was totally unprepared for his reaction to this remark.
He looked up at me and said, "I'm still happier that we don't live with Daddy." Which caused the room to spin a little.
I prodded, "Why? You're not mad that Mommy and Daddy aren't together anymore?"
He never broke eye contact, he didn't waiver. Instead he answered me and said, "I'm never going to grow up and be mad about someone else's mistakes when they don't even know how to say sorry."
I am not exaggerating when I say I could have been bought and sold for a nickel. The amount of nights I tossed and turned and agonized over how my children would take something that felt so inevitable... all of the times I thought they wouldn't be able to reconcile such a big change in their lives, it all felt futile.
Here is an eight year old, eating a burger on a Tuesday, with the wherewithal to understand all the things I thought were too big for his little world; and he was able to express it in the simplest yet wisest terms to boot.
And so I have put away my agonies and stopped tormenting myself with what if's when it comes to their understanding. They're wiser and worldlier than we think when they're not sailing down the banister or forgetting for the umpteenth time to tie their shoes. I know they'll understand it after all... and the kids are alright.